Rhod rides roughshod over Biodiversity

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Rhododendron ponticum  invades three habitats that are considered internationally important under the Habitats Directive: upland oak woods, bogs and heath.

An individual Rhododendron ponticum  casts  such deep shade that it light-starves out existing native plant colonies at its base.  Insult to injury – It also  secretes allelopathic toxins which retard germination and regeneration of native plant species nearby.

Given that rhododendrons have a tendency to forms stands and dense thickets the problem of indigenous flora displacement is compounded.

The plant impacts adversely on local fauna too –  by displacement of  their usual food supply and altering of natural habitat cover. Furthermore the foliage and tissues of Rhododendron ponticum contains quite high concentrations of  toxic phenols, which are deadly if ingested by browsing wildlife and other herbivores.

Rhododendron ponticum is also host to the plant fungus Phytophthora ramorum which is the causative agent of “Sudden Oak Death”.  It may be beautiful in flower and there is the Darwin argument but really it is time to look at reversing its spread and well tolled damage.

Traditional methods of control can be viewed at http://www.killarneynationalpark.ie/Rhododendron.htm

http://www.issg.org/database/species/reference_files/rhopon/rhopon_man.pdf

http://invasivespeciesireland.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Rhododendron-BPM.pdf

Untraditional methods – future uses

http://www.wildresources.co.uk/reports/rhodo_eng.pdf

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Rhododendron+ponticum

http://mapping.fbb.utm.my/phyknome/node/17208

see more in this blogs invasive species counterattack category

About The Holistic Gardener

I am a horticulturalist and holistic practitioner interested in how the garden and engagement with nature facilitates full potential living and therapeutic benefits.
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